By Jay Matthews
Just had the privilege to view the documentary in selected theaters, "Jesus Save Us From Your Followers." I had an inside source allow me to see a DVD of it and have had some time to view it in sections.
Very clever movie and very impressive in terms of the visual presentation and trendy graphics.
The documentary explores the polarization of American culture over issues of faith and asks a great question: What is wrong? Why is there so much venom over such a beautiful message- the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Dan Merchant presents an excellent exploration of this caustic culture in these important areas.
I found the movie helpful in some points, but too silent on two large aspects of this issue.
First: We have lost civil dialogue in this culture. Disagreement usually means 'war'. Instead of honest debate- we hurl sound bites over the internet or through talking heads. I agree that we have lost humility and love in the message. The section of the movie (inspired by Blue Like Jazz) of Christian confession was very powerful.
Second: We are ignorant of opposing worldviews and uneducated in the trends of mainstream culture. The culture war mantra has made these issue oriented debates instead of human relationships.
I agree with these premises and, sadly, am guilty as charged.
But there are two other major problems in our presentation of the gospel.
1) We need to be more tender to the 'world' - but we have lost accountability inside the church. There is no discernible difference inside the American church and outside the American church today. We are guilty of loving the world. We have the same consumerist tendencies- we have the same divorce rate- we have the same pattern of addiction and cynicism. Our lips love Jesus, but our hearts love the world.
This problem stems from a lack of seeing sin as serious. We have preached the watered down gospel. To quote Niebur,
A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.
The bad news is not bad... so the good news is not good.
2) We also stand as the most biblically illiterate generation in America. Our reading comprehension slowly dwindles and the light of the Word is dimming. I recently read a handout from C.S. Lewis to my freshman Bible class- when I finished a student said, "I didn't understand a word he said."
The purity of the church is diminishing because God's word is being eclipsed in our midst.
We should be tender to others and tough on ourselves. We need God's Spirit to convict us of sin. We need to stop posing and come clean in our sin- but we also need to move toward repentance and holiness.
One final comment- the Gospel of Christ will be offensive. Granted, it should be the only offensive part of our life as we seek to love, serve, in humility live above reproach. But if we ever think that we will live in harmony with the world.... don't be gullible.
So I come away from the movie conflicted... I want to stand for righteousness and preach forgiveness. That means drawing hard lines which will make me appear intolerant and offensive. I need to love sinners, but I cannot ignore sin.
Sin destroys.. the gospel heals. Help me Lord find the balance- help me walk in the truth. Anyone else seen this documentary? Comments? I won't be offended if you disagree!